What’s Up Leo (2)
By Steve Coe
Leo is one of those constellations that everyone learns right away. The first time you are going around the sky and early Spring comes around—there is it. A nice first magnitude star in Regulus sets off this part of the sky and the Sickle has that bright star at its southern end. It is all so easy to see and remember.
I have seen this old friend return many times over the years and it always says “galaxy time” to me. Because we are viewing at an angle that is perpendicular to the Milky Way you are quickly observing far from the rich star fields and dust lanes within the galaxy we call home. This means you and your telescope can view very distant galaxies with ease.
So, let’s do some of exactly that.
The NGC 3190 group includes four NGC galaxies in one field of view. Using a friend’s 12.5 inch f/6 Newtonian all four galaxies are pretty easily seen at 120X. NGC 3190 is the brightest galaxy in the group. With a 6 inch refractor on a very good night this galaxy was pretty bright, pretty small, much elongated 3X1, much brighter middle with an almost stellar nucleus. Averted vision makes it thicker and more prominent. There are three other faint galaxies in the field of view.
Moving way up in aperture to a 36 inch and a 20mm eyepiece, NGC 3185 is pretty bright, elongated and has a somewhat brighter middle. There is some barred spiral structure the arms come out more with averted vision. NGC 3187 is very faint and elongated. NGC 3190 is pretty bright, round and has a very bright middle; there is a hint of a dark lane during moments of good seeing. 3187 and 3190 are at about 60 degree angles to one another and 3190 has a very bright core. NGC 3193 is pretty bright, pretty small, round, much brighter middle with an occasionally stellar nucleus; a 10th mag star is on the North side at 135X.
The drawings above were made with a 12.5 inch f/6 Newtonian. This one of NGC 3226-7 is at 160X.
NGC 3226 and 3227 form a pair 50' east of Gamma Leo. 3227 is pretty bright, considerably elongated and has a pretty bright nucleus that is almost stellar. 3226 is pretty bright, round and has a bright core. These observations are with a 12.5" f/6 at 160X. What is weird about these two galaxies is that they appear to overlap each other even at high powers! The round galaxy is at one end of the elongated galaxy and it looks like a club with a knot at one end. Don't take my word for it, go look for yourself.
NGC 3489 is pretty bright, pretty small, elongated 1.8X1 and much brighter middle with a stellar nucleus. This is using the 6 inch refractor and a 14mm eyepiece. Averted vision makes it larger and more prominent. With a 13 inch Newtonian at 135X I saw it as pretty bright, pretty large, elongated 3 X 1 in PA 75, much brighter in the middle with a stellar nucleus at 135X, averted vision makes this galaxy grow in size.
This drawing of NGC 3521 was made with a 13 inch f/5.6 Newtonian at 220X. This was on a night I rated 8 out of 10 for transparency.
Using the 6" f/8 refractor this galaxy is pretty bright, large, much elongated 3.5X1, brighter middle with a core that is elongated 2X1, averted vision makes it thicker.
NGC 3521 in the 13 inch was seen as pretty bright, pretty large, much elongated 2.5 X 1 in PA 135, three levels of brightness to a core that is two times the size of the stellar disk. Going up to 220X is a nice view, bright nucleus, and bright area to the north of core about one arc minute. Overall this galaxy is smooth at all powers, not mottled. I see it as a miniature version of the Andromeda Galaxy.
This drawing of the NGC 3607 group was made with the 13 inch at 150X. I did not write out notes for each of the galaxies.
NGC 3607 is pretty bright, pretty large, round, much brighter in the middle with a stellar nucleus, somewhat mottled at 135X. It is seen within a group of three. Burnham's has "very Bright" for 3607; it must be a misprint, or an observation by Lord Rosse with the 72".
NGC 3607 in the 6" is pretty bright, pretty small, very little elongated 1.2X1, much brighter middle, averted vision makes it larger.
NGC 3608 with the 6" is pretty faint, pretty small, elongated 1.5X1, much brighter middle.